The new poster boys for British metal are kicking off the UK leg of their European tour in a wintry Birmingham. Bullet for my Valentine have enjoyed a steady rise of fame and it sees them headlining the NIA bringing with them Atreyu and fellow British boys Bring me the Horizon.
Up first are Orange County Metalcore types Atreyu. AC/DC’s Big Bottomed Girls is blasting out of the PA as the band takes to the stage to a warm reception. Drummer and vocalist Brandon Saller has a very impressive set-up but 3 bass drums seem a bit excessive but it’s pretty much all you can hear as the sound mix is terrible. Becoming the Bull and Right Side of the Bed sound good and diminutive guitarist Dan Jacobs with his trademark bandana and rising sun guitar rocks out a few guitar solos. Vocalist Alex Varkatzas seems slightly off and there’s not much power in his voice, the highlight is the last song Lip Gloss and Black as Alex gets the crowd to scream the lyrics ‘Live, Love, Burn, Die’ at the top of their lungs.
Bring Me the Horizon truly are a marmite band and a risky support act for a more mainstream, radio friendly band like Bullet to have on tour but it’s a move that’s played out well. Amongst the cheers for BMTH there is an underlying chorus of boos which seems pretty small minded. It’s a big show for the 5 lads from Sheffield and the blistering It Never Ends is the perfect way to kick off proceedings. It’s an intense performance with barely time to catch a breath; Jona Weinhofen is up on the speaker stacks and they’re barely 2 songs in. Not to be outdone Oli Sykes scales the speakers on the other side and demands a bigger pit and the crowd are more willing to comply.
The set is heavy on new material from their new album There is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen it… and Oli introduces Fuck; ‘This songs about sexual intercourse, it’s called Fuck’, Jona does a fine job of covering Josh Franceschi’s of YouMeat6 fame vocals. The Sadness Will Never End has kids pouring over the barrier as bodies are hoisted up into the air at the request for as many crowdsurfers as possible. Crucify Me sounds immense live and sampled vocals just add that little bit more and with lighters and mobile phones aloft its hard to beat but closer Blessed With a Curse slows things down and sounds epic with Oli on his hands and knees screaming his heart out.
They’ve promised a huge stage show and it’s time to see if the 4 Welsh lads in Bullet For My Valentine can deliver. The stage is shrouded in black and anticipation is high, the drums for Your Betrayal kick in and the curtain falls to uncover a huge Union Jack, the song sounds huge and there’s even some pyrotechnics thrown in for good measure, it’s an impressive start. Waking the Demon has flames bursting from the stage once again and there’s a slight festival vibe as the cameras pan over the crowd flashing images up onto the huge screen behind the band.
Matt Tuck is left alone on stage as he heads into Say Goodnight, stripping it down and it sounds good. It’s the big hits that stand out the best tonight while the lesser know tracks just seem like filler. The highlight of the set is a storming rendition of Scream, Aim, Fire and with some encouragement from Matt they crowd scream those 3 words doing him proud. It all seems very disjointed though as the set seems to a have a break every couple of songs With the rest of the band off stage it’s left to guitarist Michael Paget to shred and he plays a nifty guitar solo. He cups his hand behind his ear gesturing to the crowd to make more noise and it definitely takes some encouragement but they finally get his approval.
The encore inevitably includes Tears Don’t Fall one of their biggest hits and when the drums drop the crowd go mental. It appears to be the end but they’re not quite done yet, Matt screams ‘Fuck it, one more song’ and Begging for Mercy closes the set to the backdrop of a Welsh flag and even more flames!
They may be playing arenas but they haven’t filled it tonight and with a relatively short set there’s still some way to go before they can be compared to the likes of Iron Maiden and Metallica.
Review – Hannah Sebestjanowicz
Photos – Steve Gerrard